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angry pantoum for Big Tent Poetry

June 11, 2010

When Deb posted a link on her Facebook page to the “octocam” at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, I had no idea what I would write for the angry pantoum prompt at Big Tent Poetry. But as I watched the octopus move around the tank, I realized it could convince me to do just about anything. I wanted to be there with him (yes, “it” became a “him,” even though “it” could be a “she”). So I decided to make him the subject for my pantoum.

Knowing, of course, that the octopus is a cold-blooded creature with a sharp, deadly beak, I knew instantly it would be a poem about lovers!

So, here it is! My poem for this weekend’s COME ONE, COME ALL gathering at Big Tent Poetry. Be sure to visit the site for links to poems by other circus-goers!


No password used this week. I’m not going to pursue this one further except to pilfer a few lines/images.

Also, interesting perhaps only to me, when I first watched the octocam I thought it was a black and white camera. However, I learned that the lights were off at the facility because it was early on the west coast and the facility wasn’t open. Once the lights came on, I could see the wondrous red of the octopus. The poem, already written, had no color references. It’s all motion and silence. I wonder if color would add anything.

  1. June 11, 2010 2:06 am

    I do adore your imagination Carolee! Be it muse or personal history, a ominous overcast sky, or what you had for dinner last night – I like the rainbow’s of ideas that come along for you. Even in the guise of an octopus seduction! (While not your most dramatic, an amusing depiction of ruse it is.)

    (And aside – my own weather has gone from storm to calm. Thanks for poking you head out the window for me.) ~neil

  2. June 11, 2010 8:51 am

    I just love the cleverness and seductiveness of this poem, the flow of words about octo love, which seemed to have SUCH a human quality!

  3. June 11, 2010 9:24 am

    Such imagination to even think of using this topic, plus putting yourself in the octo’s tentacles…very good!

  4. June 11, 2010 10:20 am

    Cleve how you ‘pantoumed’ your way through this piece using just the last word, or variations of that last word, in the repeating lines. Clever, clever (lightbulbs going off in my head). the subject matter is amazing, although that word is somewhat of an understatement for how I feel about your topic. I think, in my old age, I’m lacking the hormones I need to see an octopus in a personal entanglement other than one that is dangerous…oh! (another lightbulb just went off…). ha. Brilliant (like a lightbulb, or better).

  5. June 11, 2010 10:31 am

    Oh carolee, each week you outdo yourself! Luscious lascivious beast, all tentacles and desire. I will never look at an octopus the same. Thank you.

  6. June 11, 2010 10:40 am

    Hi Carolee,

    This is certainly a different sort of pantoum since the repetition is so subtle. It would seem that there are myriad variations possible within the form. A very unusual look at an octopus!

  7. June 11, 2010 2:44 pm


  8. June 11, 2010 2:49 pm

    oh, the guilt! ok ok ok. i cheated! yes, i only used the final words as though i were writing a sestina (but copying the repetition of the pantoum instead).

    i feel now like i have to write a true pantoum to redeem myself.

    • June 13, 2010 4:19 pm

      No! No you don’t. It’s a beautiful poem and we are give each other all the slack we need to follow the muse.

  9. June 11, 2010 2:55 pm

    I was wondering how anyone would choose the pantoum. Even with puns and punctuation, it seems pretty mechanical. This technique eradicates the objections.

    Your octo must spend a lot of his time around sand bars.

    • June 11, 2010 3:15 pm

      barbara — cheating is always an option and it does eradicate some of our objections.

      BUT i would be remiss if i didn’t point out that the pantoum form benefits some poems tremendously. this poem

      is my all-time favorite pantoum. it’s remarkable. and it’s clear how the form makes sense.

      (going to post this at BTP, too!)

  10. June 11, 2010 3:29 pm

    🙂 wonderful. again.

  11. June 11, 2010 4:42 pm

    Splendid Carolee!
    you have a great imagination!

  12. June 11, 2010 6:52 pm

    Pantoums are challenging to write. Your subject works with the form because you’ve written about the age-old dance of love, a sort of hypnotic cycle of coming together and breaking apart. Great word choice-ruse, sashay, writhing, fluid ache…

  13. June 11, 2010 7:05 pm

    What a sensual poem you made of an tanked octopus. Sad, but so sensual.

    – Dina

  14. June 11, 2010 9:13 pm

    interesting detail abt the octopus… i was at an acquarium in dallas and they had jellyfish presented in a such an hypnotic way i felt the same as you speak…coulda stayed there all day…. like the freedom of words chosen to entwine the two points of view along with your own… yeah, hypnotic thaz the word…

  15. June 11, 2010 9:14 pm

    Repeated lines in this form work well for anger-the reaction. Your more subtle use of repetition suits the progression of anger into the sadness of longing, or disappointment.

  16. June 12, 2010 3:47 am

    I followed this poem line by line hypnotised, mesmerised. Great pantoum Carolee.

  17. Irene permalink
    June 12, 2010 8:24 am

    I like how you cheated the pantoum. Sadness as ruse is an interesting topic. Yes. A rather clever ending, seeing as tentacles become obviously what they mean. So, a rather imaginative perspective. Now I’d never see an octopus without thinking of your poem Carolee. (We’re presuming there’s some underlying anger at being cheated by the ruse?)

  18. June 13, 2010 4:23 pm

    Wonderful words (as Christine points out) and incredible meaning. Love the idea that a captured creature is the one who tricks and entraps.

    I do love that octopus, though, and am sure he is not the tricky one. Just one that looks just like him.

    I think it works w/o color, although if you pilfer lines/phrases (great idea) that adding the red could be wondeful.

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